Settling the Authority Question, part 2
Listen to the Sermon audio
What does the creation account in Genesis tell us about the nature of God? How does the truth of creation remind us that all that we are and all that we have we owe to Him?
Good morning. Well, you are the hardy ones this morning! I texted a picture from the Weather Channel of 18 below to friend in Memphis this morning and I got back. Gasp! But you are a long time Minnesotans, many of you. This is this is more normal for the course. But we open God's word this morning. I want to open it just in a bit of a different way. This morning I saw this quote. It's not attributed to anyone, so I can't tell you the source.
But someone has said that your worldview is like an umpire at a ball game. Now think about an umpire. If you go to a ball game while you're watching the game, he seems relatively unimportant. In fact, you probably are hardly aware of the umpire while you're watching all the action at a ball game. But we know the reality, don't we? That umpire may decide - does decide - the whole game.
And that's what's true, that's what can be accurately said about your worldview. You may be hardly aware of your worldview. I think most people in our culture are not even aware they have a worldview. But ultimately, your worldview decides what you believe. And when you think just about the issues facing our culture today, think about how your worldview helps you or causes you to decide issues like what is gender and what is sex, like same sex marriage, transgender rights, abortion, euthanasia. I could go on and on. But the way that you think about those issues, the way people all around us in our culture think about these issues is determined. It is decided by your worldview. I've been using that term. Let me define that just in case you don't have a real clear handle on what I mean by worldview. Lots of definitions out there, but I just simply define it like this.
Your worldview is your fundamental beliefs and assumptions about life, about how you got here, about who you are, about why you exist. About what it is to live a good life. About where you're going, your eventual destiny, all of those things and more - your beliefs, your assumptions that again, for the most part you're not even aware of, they are what make up your worldview and my assertion to you this morning:
Those of you who are here and watching, who are followers of Jesus Christ Christians in the most genuine sense for Christians, Christians determine their worldview from the truth of who God is, the truth of how God made us. We answer those questions fundamentally from what God has revealed to us and his word, and they therefore give us the grid to look at issues like I mentioned, like sex and gender, like same sex marriage, like transgender rights, like abortion, like euthanasia. So that and much more is why we are this month, this month of February, we are working through a very short series on who God is because of our worldview is ultimately built upon the assumptions of who God is and how he has made us, we need to know accurately who he is. And that you couldn't do in a dozen sermons. But we're taking little chunk. And this morning (Last week we we looked at at at God as he reveals himself as the great I am) This morning we look in Genesis one and two primarily at God as he reveals himself as the creator. And I would encourage you, I am not going to read all of Genesis Chapter one and two. But if you have your Bible either in paper or you have it on an phone or some electronic device, I encourage you to open it up to Genesis one and two. I'll be making reference in there. There are discussion notes attached to the the bulletin that you can get you can print online and they help you go a little further. So I would encourage you even after today, whether you do it by yourself or as a family unit or in a small group to work through those discussion questions, which will take you a little bit further through Genesis one and two.
When we think about God as creator, we we think about, especially if we've been raised up in the public schools, what we know is, is a primary wall that we hit right away. When we think about what the culture tries to shape as our worldview that could easily or quickly be summed up as creationism versus materialism, creationism as well defined in a moment in Genesis one and two, that there is a God who made everything that there is; materialism, that there is no God, that all that exists is is just is just matter. That's all that there is, that matter has always been there, that matter will always continue. There is no divine mind behind all of it. And encompassed in that is even the theory. I underline the word theory of evolution. And here's what I would say to you. Even as you think about those those two poles, creationism versus evolution, we often are put in the situation maybe on the defense as Christians where we are challenged that evolution is science and creationism is myth. I would assert to you, especially if you read on evolution, it is a theory. It is a theory. It is not something that can be established by hard evidentiary proof. And so I would tell you this - all answers which you attempt to explain the origin of the universe are essentially faith positions. We as as Christians, we embrace that creationism is a faith position. It takes faith. What the the world around us that that rejects that that holds on evolution does not acknowledge. But I would tell you it is true is that equally is a faith position. It takes as much faith to believe the theory of evolution as it does in creationism.
In my opinion, it takes more faith to believe in that.
So how is it that we as Christians, we look at what we have as the accounts of of the origins of the universe, we would start with this assertion. We don't have to prove scientifically what we stand upon. We acknowledge that because we are creatures and we are limited as creatures, we are limited. And what we know, we are limited in our abilities to perceive and think because of our limitations as creatures, we acknowledge that we must receive this knowledge of of the origins of the universe by revelation from the creator that we cannot know. We can read. And there's lots to read and there's lots to bring into an apologetic argument, no doubt. But fundamentally, we acknowledge we need to receive truth about this, about this subject by revelation from the creator.
And we'd go one step further because we are fallen, because of the effects of sin, we acknowledge that we must be reborn before we can even comprehend that revelation.
Why is it that somebody who doesn't follow Jesus, why is it that somebody who who doesn't believe that God exists can read the same accounts in Genesis one and two that that we read and and write it off as myth because that that work of rebirth has not been done in their heart, because they do not have the spirit who enables them to understand and perceive what truth is. So I start fundamentally with this this morning. I'm not making an apologetic argument to you this morning. I'm coming saying we're absolutely dependent upon the God who reveals himself to us and we are absolutely dependent upon the spirit of God.
If we have been reborn, who helps us to comprehend God's revelation.
Well, God made himself known to us. He reveals himself to us and as the creator and again in Genesis one and two, there are other places, including the texts that were read just a couple of minutes ago. But but fundamentally and primarily, he reveals himself to us as the creator in Genesis one and two. And I'm not going to dive real deep in this. But even as you read, start reading in Genesis one, how do you how do you make sense of that information you may have heard if you've read or heard anything, any teaching on this - There is as Genesis one opens, there's different theories about what's happening there. Is it is it a gap in time? Is it another theory is called the initial chaos theory that that God is creating out of chaos. I don't have time to go into those this morning. I will just tell you where I come from. I come from what's called a summary statement view in that summary statement view starts out with this: Verse one of chapter one gives us a summary statement of all of creation. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth", and that is a summary statement. And then moving into verse two. "And the earth was formless and void and darkness was over the face of the deep and the spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters." That describes the pre creation statement as God begins to create. That is the situation that he creates out of and then, moving on from verse two, really all the rest of chapter one, and I would argue to the end of Chapter two is really a narrative account of description or a narrative account of creation. And notice it describes in multiple ways how it is that God brought everything into existence, he said.
In other words, he spoke it into existence. He called it into existence.
He made what exists. He separated things so that what exists exists. He placed things into existence. He created things. He formed things. He caused things.
And he blessed what he created. So all of those two chapters after verse two are a narrative account.
One other if you read it. And I hope if you haven't read it recently, (If you've never read it, I especially hope that you read these two chapters today.) But if it's been some time since you have read them, I would encourage you even this afternoon, mark out some time and read them. And one of the things that you will notice, that is often noticed, is chapter one seems different than Chapter two. There seems to be two almost different accounts. And again, there's various theories on that. But I would give you my explanation, which I think is the plain reading explanation. Chapter one, you'll notice is a chronological account.
You will see the seven days of creation are really the six days of creation and then the day of rest. So it's a chronological overview of creation.
Chapter two is is not a different account in the sense that some different author wrote it. So it has a different purpose.
Chapter two gives us a much more detailed account of God's creation of humanity, of man. So we get the overview chronologically in chapter one. And then because, as we're going to see in a few minutes, man is the pinnacle of God's creation we get a detailed account, a more detailed account, in Chapter two of the creation of Man. What does God reveal about himself in Genesis one and two?
You know, there's so much again, in the limited time I have, I had to kind of pick and choose what is it that Lord, that in particular, as we're looking at you, is created or what is it that you what is it that you want me to point out this morning? So this is by no means exhaustive. But I would start with what is the intent? Moses is the writer of Genesis one and two. And that's been the historic position. That is the position of all credible Bible scholars, at least Bible believing Bible scholars today. What was it that Moses, under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, was intending to do as he opens up Genesis one and two to, first of all, the Israelites?
But to you and to me and I would tell you, it's two things.
I think there is a positive intent that he has. And then I think there was a negative intent that he has. And that positive intent intent is, is that he wants to give us truth about the nature of God. He wants to increase our faith in God by showing us something of God's nature in his creation. But then there is the negative. There is the negative in that he is setting this creator God and how God brought everything into existence. He's setting that against all the other myths, all the other accounts out there in the ancient Near East for how things came into being. And so in a way that we can't appreciate unless we read about all those different cultures that existed at that time,
what he is presenting here is a radically different creation account from any that exists.
Now, let me just bring that up to the 21st century, we need both of those. We need for our own faith, first of all, but we need as well as we go out into the world, we need to be able to represent the nature of our God as he presents himself in his creation. And that is, as I think we'll see as we go through it, that is, that is a powerful testimony. That is something that should - it doesn't because of the effects of sin - but that is something that should draw men and women to him. But we also need that negative. We need to see how this account of who God is as creator God and how he has created it. It stands radically apart from all the other explanations in our culture. We may not have all the pagan creation myths, although many of those reoccur even today in various forms. But even as we stand against secularism, against materialism, against the belief that there is no God and everything is random, we need to be grounded and who God is as creator to be able to speak into those who are lost in the lies of materialism, of pantheism, of dualism, as we'll see. Well, let's let's look at some of these truths that I've been able to pick out here for the time that we have. First of all, in the opening words of verse one in the beginning
God. In the beginning God.
What is what is Moses want us to see there? He just presents God is already there at the beginning of creation. There is no mention that he makes; there's not even really an inference that there was a time when God was not. He presents God, he makes the makes the assumption and what he writes there, that God has always been. All the other ancient Near East creation accounts - they had in their God and their deity - they had some kind of birth account or metamorphosis story that where something this deity that wasn't suddenly comes into existence or changes form and then creates. Only the one true God, the God of Israel, is the God who has always existed, who is eternal, who is above and before all of his creative work. God we represent was not born. God was not created. The true God - our positive and negative presentation is - is both eternal and uncreated. And not only is is that a powerful testimony, but for me and I hope for you, that gives great assurance. I don't know if you have a positive associations about your earthly father. I do of mine. And he is still living.
And what I remember - he was certainly not a perfect father, like I've not been a perfect father, but what I remember growing up is he was always there. It was just always assumed, I could always assume and count on the fact that he would always be there. He was there before I came into the world and all through my childhood. Sure, there were times where he was gone on a business trip or something like that. But even then he was available to me. And so my confidence never wavered that my earthly father was there for me. That may not be your experience. I know today that is not the experience of many, but you can probably think of someone who, if it wasn't your father or your wasn't your mother, who has been consistently there for you. Well, that's a dim example of what it is to have the assurance that comes from the fact that our God is eternal, that he has always existed. There's never been a time when when he either wasn't there or he was in some lesser form. There's never been a time where it's wavered his presence.
That gives great confidence and great assurance, especially in the moments where we don't feel them, where we don't subjectively experience his presence.
He has always been there. He is eternal and he is always there.
So that's one truth that I think Moses intends for us to teach.
Secondly, if we go just a little bit further and verse one there "In the beginning, God created" and the Hebrew word there is bara and that word is is incredibly significant. There's many words to Genesis one and two that that speak to how God brings things into an existence. This word stands out uniquely and it's in the very first sentence. This word is a word that is whenever it is used, God is always the subject.
So man or woman does not bara, does not create. And this sense. This is a word that has implied in it effortless production, that he brings things into existence without toiling, without without sweating. This is a word that conveys the idea of putting into a form which did not previously exist. All that is packed into that one word that that Moses opens with. And then even the heavens in the earth. We see heavens, that word, used in some places in Scripture and earth and others.
But heavens, the heavens and the earth are often used together. It is a phrase that has significant meaning, particularly in the Hebrew. Whenever you see that phrase, it is generally referring to everything that's in existence. Or we could say the entire universe is encompassed by that phrase, the heavens and the earth.
And so what is Moses telling us here, Moses is telling us what we read just a few minutes ago in John Chapter one, that all things were made through him, that apart from him, nothing was made that presently exist. Nothing previously existed before God created, in other words. God is the cause of everything that existed.
So there's no room for materialism. There is no room for. Yes, there's been something in some some cellular form that's that through evolution and millions of years has developed into something else. No, there was a time when there was nothing and that is when God created. There's no place for materialism.
And with it evolutionary theory.
This means that there is no place for dualism. Many of the myths out there that even that even come down to us in the 21st century in one form or another, hold to a dualistic belief that, you know, there have been these forces of of good in these forces of evil. I know this is dated a few years, but think about Star Wars and the force and the dark side of the force and the light side of the force. No, there's no place for that. There was never a time where there was not just God, but there was some parallel evil evil force as well. This leaves no room for pantheism, pantheism, the belief that, well God is in all of creation and all of creation is God, that that would presume that that God really didn't exist until creation existed.
No, there was a time when there was nothing and everything that has been created came out of nothing by God.
As we go through the the Genesis one and two, you will see that that multiple times we see the same phrase - we see, then God said, "let there be".
And then a little bit later in the sentence. "And it was so" We see that in verse three, "let there be light".
"And it was so" In verse six, "let there be an expanse", in other words, the atmosphere around us. "And it was so" In verse nine, "let there be dry land." "And it was so" In verse 11, "let there be vegetation and plants and trees". "And it was so" and verse 15, "let there be the sun and the moon". "And it was so" In verse 20 "let there be living creatures and birds". "And it was so". What do we see there? We see that God speaks and it comes into being. We see that the creative process is initiated by the will of God. He decides to bring something new in existence and then it's expressed through his word.
He speaks it into existence and it comes into existence.
So from this, we know that nothing exists, not only that God didn't create, but nothing exists that God didn't intentionally create, there's nothing that presently is or ever has been that somehow is something that came into the world except by God's intentional creative hand. And then this powerful truth of creation by his word that he speaks, he wills it and he speaks it, that stands in stark contrast to so many of the other creation myths that are out there that all start with their deity was in this cosmic struggle with forces of chaos or forces of darkness. And it's through triumphing in that cosmic struggle that things come into being; no, God effortlessly speaks it and it comes into existence. And then the fact that he wills it - that stands in stark contrast to evolutionary theory, that all is dependent on randomness, nothing is here except for just random chance. No, this is the exact opposite of that. This is intentionality. This this is God planning it, designing it, willing it, speaking it into existence.
Notice as the creation account goes on, notice the limits and the boundaries that he establishes: verse four God separated the light from the darkness. He creates boundaries between the light and the darkness that we come to know as day and night. Notice the order and the structure
He establishes: verse 14 He establishes the movement of the celestial bodies of sun and moon and stars, and verse 14 says as signs for seasons and for days and for years. The reason we have a calendar, the reason we invented watches is because of the order and the structure that God built into creation. Notice the order that he creates and the animal kingdom: verse twenty one, every winged bird he created after its kind, a significant phrase, there's twenty four, cattle and beasts of the earth he created
after their kind. He determined all of the animal kingdom.
I'm not a zoologist. I don't even know the terms for how you figure out the trees of how we got animals in the families and genuses of animals. But all of that is by his design. All of that order, all of that structure was part of his intentional plan.
All of this, I believe, reveals how intentional, how purposeful God is. And again, that stands in stark contrast to what we hear around us today and what is taught predominantly in the public schools. Evolutionary theory teaches randomness. The reason we have anything is is, again, millions of years of chance.
And in stark contrast to that, we worship a God who the driving force of creation is his intelligent design. And that intelligent design it gives me, it gives me great assurance, gives me even great joy to to look at something even as intricate as the human hand and all the ways that just the hand alone functions and everything it does, everything that exists in the hand with its muscles and its bones and its veins to to make that hand work just right. That hand; it is so crucial to all that we do. All of that is by God's intelligent design.
Well, the pinnacle of God's intelligent design is man is woman is the human being, and Genesis reveals that that God uniquely created human beings.
And again, that is a revolutionary message in today's culture, is it not, that would raise animals up and make them equal with human beings. That would say that there is no inherent uniqueness, much less dignity in human beings. It is a message that that speaks into even the culture of death, that that undergirds the abortion industry, that God uniquely created human beings. We see this in a couple places. Skipping ahead into chapter two, verse seven, "The Lord God formed man out of the dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being." That that term living being is the Hebrew nephesh. It can be translated as soul. It can be translated as self. And what is God? What is Moses, under the inspiration of God, telling us here that God made human beings uniquely in that we are a unified person with body and soul, living and abiding together. That, well, we will see if we if we dip back into Chapter one for a moment and one verse twenty seven "And God created man in his own image in the image of God, he created him male and female. He created them." And by the way, that last phrase means that the image of God is both male and female. It's not just male and it's not just female.
The image of God is a male and female, together. Though we have similarities with certain animals in the animal kingdom, we are uniquely different. We are at the pinnacle. We are uniquely different because we are the only ones that are made in the image of God.
And again, there's a multitude of sermons that could be preached just on what is the image of God. But that is a term that that biblical scholars have a hard time getting a full handle on. But the image of God, at least I can say this this morning: it enables us to relate to him like animals cannot.
It enables us to think about eternity, like animals cannot; it enables us to be saved through Christ, like animals cannot. Well, there is much more I could say, but in these last few minutes, let me shift. If these things are true of God as our creator, how are to we regard God our creator.
I would suggest to you that perhaps for at least for me, the most powerful statement in all of scripture for how we are to look at the one who creates us is is uttered by the beings around the throne in that vision and revelation four: "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power for you created all things.
And it's by your will that they were created. It is by your will that they have their being." You see what these beings are doing, they are acknowledging the rightful dominion, the ownership that he has over all that he's created, including all of us, the rightful dominion that he has because he sustains us. The fact that we are alive and breathing this morning is because of his will. In other words, because God made it all. He is Lord of all.
But do people acknowledge this?
No. Certainly there was a time when I did not acknowledge this and we're told about really the scene of all of humanity and Romans Chapter one, since the creation of the world, God's eternal power and divine nature has been clearly seen. We can look in creation and we can see all of creation. We can see the intricacy in the human hand, and it points us to God as creator.
So we have, Paul says to the Romans, no excuse for not knowing God, but even though that is true, Paul goes on in the very next breath. But they (we) do not honor him as God or give him thanks. That's the response of the unbelieving world. It is to ignore. It is to make up different accounts.
It is to twist that truth so that all we see and creation around us can be written off, can be disregarded. So we do not have to bow before the one who has dominion over us because he is our creator and he is our sustainer. So what is if we are followers of Jesus, what is the message that we must proclaim?
And again, I can't speak exhaustively here, but Paul's approach, an Act 17 when he goes to the city of Athens, a city much like ours today, a city that had great wealth city that had great intellect, a city that was represented by all the world views that were known probably at the time, a city that prided itself on how modern they were.
And when he goes to the place where all the intellectuals gather, having observed all of this, what is it that he decides that the Lord impresses him, that he should represent and he should proclaim here it is: "The God who made the world and everything in it. He is the Lord of heaven and Earth." He asserts God is creator. He asserts that there's one true God, the God who is the creator. "He himself gives everyone life and breath and all things." So we begin by representing that that who is who God is, that whether people recognize it or not, he made us. He sustains us.
He has dominion over us.
But then Paul goes on a little later, because of this truth, Paul says, "God now commands all people everywhere to repent because he has set a day on which he is going to judge the world and righteousness by a man that he has appointed." And that is our message, as unpopular as it is, as rejected as it may be, that you can only reject God for so long, you can only refuse to acknowledge him as your creator in your sustainer for so long, there is coming a day when he will judge.
And he will judge, he will execute that judgment by the Man - capital M, the Son of Man whom he has appointed, and Paul goes on to say he has provided proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead. The one true God, our creator, our sustainer, he has dared to incarnate himself with us as the son, Christ Jesus.
So how is it that we come humbly to our creator and our sustainer, we come to the one in whom God now is bringing everything and heaven and earth under the authority of, putting it under His feet.
We come to the one for whom there is coming a day when all will bow before him, some willingly, some by force, and all will proclaim him as Savior and Lord. So let me close with this and this I realize this is blunt: God created you, God sustains you. You would not be here breathing this morning if it were not for the will of God. And because of those truths, he has dominion over you. He has lordship over you, whether you recognize it and acknowledge it or not. And you will one day stand before him in judgment.
And the creator of the universe will judge you based upon whether you have bowed to him through his son, Jesus Christ. But here is the good news, here is the gospel, the creator of the universe, the one who will one day judge you for whether you recognize that he, even today, can do a work of new creation in your heart. I love the fact that Paul draws from God as creator under the inspiration of God in Second Corinthians 5:17. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old
things passed away. New things have come." Just as God brought from nothing into existence all of physical creation God can take from the blackness, the sinfulness of our hearts. He can take from that nothingness and he can produce in us new life, new creation in Christ.
So that, again, bluntly is my question to you, has that work of new creation occurred in your heart? You will never even be able to acknowledge God as the ultimate creator if that work, a new creation, has not been done in your heart, but you can hope in your heart even today.
And that is the message that we take into the world, whether the world hears it, whether the world rejects it or not, we represent God is creator and sustainer, but we also represent him as the one who comes among us incarnate, as the one who does the work of new creation in our hearts, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let's pray.
Oh, Lord, we are about to worship you, singing. May, it be, Lord, a time where we respond in worship to who you are. Worthy are you, O Lord, to receive all glory and honor and power for you created us and in you we have our being.
You sustain us and we praise you that we can know you through the one who does the new creation in our heart. Our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.